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zoz             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
in fulfilment of their great purpose. For just as every great structure of man, just as this white temple of Denderah upon whose roof I stood, has come into being in fulfilment of a plan that existed within the minds of its architects, so every great gathering of individuals into a nation was prearranged within the minds of the gods, those divine architects, under whose care and charge all mankind has existed and exists still.
I descended the old staircase and returned to the entrance, to set about an examination of the interior of the main temple, through which I had hurried in order to find the Mystery Chapel which, above everything else, had first lured my interest. In the vast open vestibule, twenty-four huge white columns, whose square capitals supported the carven but mutilated representations of the face of the goddess Hathor, and whose sides were covered with hieroglyphs, rose to support the ponderous cornice of the majestic portico. Her face appeared on all four sides of each pillar-head, and a small pylon had been inserted below the abacus as part of her head-dress. How sadly came the thought that this temple, which was dedicated to Egypt's goddess of beauty and love, to horn-head-dressed Hathor herself, should have been so little harmed by the hand of Nature—it is perhaps the best preserved of all the old temples to be seen to-day, and one of the few which have remained so perfect—and so much by the hand of man. Almost all of those gigantic female faces had been hacked to pieces by fanatic fury, though their long ears and massive head-gears still remain. For Ijenderah was one of the most gorgeous temples in all Egypt of those still used at the time the Edict of Theodosius, in A.D. 379, abolished the ancient worship and gave the final death-blow to the already dying religion.
His envoy, Cynegius, carried out his orders to the full. He shut up all the temples and places of initiation, and prohibited any celebration of the Mysteries and ancient rites. Christianity, or rather the Church, had finally triumphed. Then the intolerant mobs swarmed into Denderah; drove away the priests and trampled on the appurtenances of their rituals. They overthrew Hathor's statues, despoiled her gilded shrines and mutilated the most prominent features of her carved face wherever it could be- conveniently reached.
In other places they did far worse, for they broke down the walls, demolished the columns, shattered the statued giants, and undid the work of thousands of years. Such are the varying